When practicing a profession we are naturally branding ourselves. We acquire the skills, we hang out with people from the same branch, we start using a specific jargon or gesture in certain ways which all together will make us known as Mr/Mrs X the accountant/neurologist/expert in barbecues, you name it. Sure there are exceptions to the rule, some of them making the brand even more obvious. Hands up who has already seen a really messy accountant, a taciturn waiter, a clumsy carpenter or a disorganized lawyer.
But how about when you want to change your brand? Can a lawyer be regarded as an engineer and can an accountant be believed as an artist?
To make things more complicated, you might need to rebrand yourself quickly sometimes. When you go to an interview, at the beginning in a new career, when you change bosses, when you want to take on additional and higher responsibilities in the same job or when you change bosses you will unavoidably have to go through a rebranding exercise, knowingly or unknowingly.
The term didn’t start its career by referring to people but to products.
The Business Dictionary defines branding as the “process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers’ mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers“.
Rebranding will then be the process of doing all of that again to change the perception over one product. Like advertising red wine as a heart medicine or chocolate as an anti-aging fix instead of the divine dessert it represents for most of us.
So when it comes to people and jobs branding is the process of creating an image of ourselves as specialists in a field or job and rebranding is the process of changing an already existing image into a new one.
There are four essential elements to (re)branding:
1. Knowledge or know-how – this is the most important one. If you want to rebrand yourself properly there will be no way around actually acquiring the knowledge linked to the targeted “brand”. You’ll need to prove that you have that knowledge and can use it perfectly. Moreover, because you were not initially known as an expert in that field, the expectations required for people to change your perception of you might even be higher than for other individuals already confirmed in that field.
So, go back to school, take an evening class or get the best self-tutoring materials there are and bring yourself up-to-speed with the new field quickly, quicker than everybody would expect.
2. Actions: Find the most common characteristics that differentiate your target brand and role in it from other ones and embrace them in a way that is suitable to your own character.
If you are rebranding as a trainer, you’ll need to review your presentation techniques, the way you use your voice, the conciseness of your dialogue and clarity of your instructions.
Most of the times this will only be a matter of adapting your body language. Other times you will actually need to go out there and do stuff: like, if you want to rebrand as an environmental activists you cannot limit yourself to dressing up in green and changing your speech and menu. You will also need to go out and make yourself heard.
Social media is a good tool for rebranding. Update your LinkedIn and other profiles with your latest qualifications. Put in evidence skills and competencies relevant to your new targeted brand. Sign-up for interests groups, search-up information related to your new field and share it on relevant platforms. You might want to chose your platform according to your target population: Facebook is more for friends and private use, whereas LinkedIn might be more appropriate for professional articles just as Google+ is known to be closer to technology addicts.
3. People: Associate yourself with people from that profession. This is a fact as old as time and proven on and on. Traits, be them good or bad, rub off easily, we take upon our friends and family and they take upon us, we are judged and we judge based on the company around us, fair or not fair, this is an undeniable reality. Being in the company of professionals from the brand you’re targeting will bring your there quicker and will make others see you differently too.
Search your network for professionals in that brand and set-up informal meetings with them over coffee or lunch. Join events and interest groups, go to conferences in the field and follow up with the new people you meet. Keep them up to date with new stuff you find out and ask them to include you in mailing or distribution lists. Reach out to these people as often and as meaningfully as you possibly can.
4. Things: Populate your office space with objects related to that profession. Were you fascinated with the models or posters in your doctor’s office when you were a kid? Did you see that king of objects somewhere else? In another’s doctor’s practice maybe? Yes? My point exactly.
Gathering the right objects around you will help others see you under a new brand quicker. To give one example, if you just started to write sports articles decorate your office with baseball bats, tennis balls and alike. Pick objects that have a story attached to them and that puts you in a good light, so that when you will be asked about them you will also have the chance to make an impression related to the field on your interlocutor.
Whichever way you chose, you don’t want to overdo this. Change overload can be quite annoying and it might alienate precious family members, friends and acquaintances. Rebranding comes from a need most of the times, it will not necessarily be a choice and you don’t have to push things beyond limits when it comes to your relationships. Be open and honest to your family and friends about your intentions. Involve them in your rebranding effort and they will help you in ways that you could have not anticipated while you relationship to them will become even closer.
So, good luck with your rebranding! Let us know what how you did it, how it went and what were your bigger challenges in the process. And feel free to share any other thoughts or suggestions tho improve this post!